Your seemingly innocent question stares back at me from the screen.
What’s on your mind?
The cursor blinks, waiting for a response.
What would happen if I answered truthfully? If I just laid it all out there for you to see. Put it out in the open for you to judge.
A quick scroll through my timeline reflects the life of a mother who adores her family. Just look at my boys in their superhero Halloween costumes, and their matching hockey jerseys. Could they be any cuter?
And there’s my husband, handsome as ever, curled up with the dog. How precious is that?
And that family photo in front of the Christmas tree, the one where the stars somehow magically aligned and we’re all looking at the camera and smiling. Oh yeah, that’s the money shot. Eat your heart out Norman Rockwell.
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook. I didn’t lie to you, I swear. These moments are real and so are the beaming smiles on our faces. These moments happened, and yes, they were worth sharing. But they don’t tell the whole story—not even close. They are mere glimpses of a life that is far messier and more complicated than anything that can be summed up with over-filtered selfies and meaningless hashtags.
It’s what I didn’t share that’s eating away at me. It’s all the things I never told you.
You see FB—can I call you FB? What I failed to mention is that I struggle with my role as a mother nearly every day. In between the moments of joy that I post, there’s an ugly side to this life that doesn’t get captured on my phone or shared on social media.
What if I told you that I feel uncontrollable anger sometimes? I’m talking a 0-to-100, real quick kind of anger. What if I said that I never felt that kind of anger before I had kids? If I posted about the inescapable shame and guilt that comes with this inexplicable rage, would you still want to know what’s on my mind?
Should I tell you about my anxiety? About that time I had a panic attack after I dropped the boys off at day care. How I drove back home in tears, parked in the driveway, and struggled to breathe. How I felt so completely and utterly alone in my panic. Is there an emoticon for that?
What if you knew how scared I am sometimes? How my mind spins with worry and negative thoughts about how I’m not good enough to be a mother. How I’m just not strong enough to handle the overwhelming responsibility of raising these kids. Would you respond with a “like” and a thumbs up?
That’s the kind of shit I don’t tell you, FB.
What will you think of me now that I’ve said these things? Will you judge me? Trust me, it won’t be harsher than I judge myself.
But here’s what I’ve come to realize: Every time I open up to someone about my mental health, I am met with compassion. Every time I let my guard down and show my vulnerability, I am embraced with empathy—time and time again, without fail. It’s a beautiful thing that catches me by surprise each time it happens.
That is what’s on my mind today, Facebook, and I’m more than happy to share.